Spicy Pepperoni Greens

While I’m on the subject of lazy Sundays, the following is how we typically spend a Sunday here in Seattle. We usually get up around 7:30-8:00 a.m. (years of early risings for speech team have unfortunately trained us both to never sleep in much later than that) and have breakfast. Breakfast is followed by my futzing around in my pajamas while John tools around on the computer yet urging me to get dressed and get my stuff together. I eventually do, and then we take a quick trip across the bridge to West Seattle to go to our gym. Then gym is usually followed by lunch (often the pho place where you also get delicious free cream puffs) and a walk around the California/Alaska Ave. junction. The stroll up and down a couple blocks is usually peppered by a quick browse in an antique store, my begging to stop and get a cupcake or to adopt a cat when the Humane Society’s truck is out that day (cats and cupcakes have equal weight in necessity for me), but quite usually, we stroll around the farmer’s market. We frequently browse, but rarely buy, unless something like this catches my eye:

On a bitterly cold, but gloriously sunny Sunday, I saw this tall bag of mixed dark greens at one stand.I could identify leaves of fresh spinach mixed with hearty pieces of curly kale and leaves of colorfully veined chard. It was just too beautiful to resist buying. I knew that I wanted to saute these with tons of garlic and red pepper and would be perfectly happy if that was the extent of this side dish.

When I started cooking these greens, I caramelized an onion and added little rounds of a Serrano pepper that I found in the fridge. My trip to the fridge also brought some long forgotten pepperoni to my attention. I thought about how one of the things I love most about pepperoni pizza is how the pepperoni crisps up while baking on top of the oven. Crispy strips of pepperoni would add some beautiful texture, a little more heat, and a punch of bright color to my greens. So I sliced up the pepperoni into 1/2 inch wide strips and cooked them in a small skillet like bacon and got this:

So with onions and crispy pepperoni strips reserved on the side, I got down to cooking the greens themselves. I gave them a quick sear in hot olive oil with plenty of garlic and red pepper as originally intended then added a splash of chicken stock and popped the lid on the pan to let them wilt down. I then folded in the onions and plated them before sprinkling the pepperoni strips on top in order to help them retain their crispness. These were so delicious– slightly bitter but balanced with sweetness from the onion. A little heat from the Serrano pepper and red pepper flakes, and best of all– slightly chewy, crispy slivers of pepperoni that mirrored the garlic and spice in the greens. I don’t see how you wouldn’t be able to get the greatest vegetable hater in the world to eat this!

  • 1 small sweet onion, cut into thin slivers
  • 1 Serrano pepper, de-seeded and ribs removed if you’re afraid of the heat, sliced into thin rounds
  • olive oil
  • 2 oz pepperoni, stack them then slice them into 1/2 wide strips
  • 2 lbs mixed dark greens, spinach, chard, and kale.
  • 2 medium cloves of garlic, minced (about 1.5 tsps)
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • salt and pepper

In a small skillet, heat about 2 tsps olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and Serrano pepper, and turn the heat down to medium low. Stir every now and then, cooking until onion is brown and shiny– about 30 to 40 minutes.

In the meantime, heat about 1 tsp olive oil in another small skillet over medium heat. Add the pepperoni so it lies in a single layer on the bottom of the pan. Don’t disturb them, giving them time to crisp up. Flip them around every now and then to avoid burning and to ensure both sides are crisped. Remove to a paper towel lined plate.

In a large skillet, heat about 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and let them sizzle for about 30 seconds, being sure to stir them around to keep the garlic from burning. Add the greens and saute for 3 to 4 minutes. Pour in the chicken stock and put a tight-fitting lid on the pan before turning the heat down to medium. Let this cook down for about 5-7 minutes before stirring in the onions and Serrano pepper. Plate, piling the greens up high before scattering the pepperoni on top.


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